Teacher Notes 




Our class has been asked to produce a Black History video focusing on the Harlem Renaissance. The International Broadcast Corporation has asked that we include historical and cultural background, photographs and interviews with prominent African-Americans associated with the period. We are also encouraged to include any other information we feel is pertinent to the time. This is a wonderful opportunity for each of you, our class, and the entire school community. We will show the rest of the nation the quality of our students and the superior product we are capable of producing.


  • You must research the Harlem Renaissance.
    • What was the Harlem Renaissance?
    • Where, when, and why did the Renaissance take place?
    • Who were the major African-Americans associated with the Renaissance?
  • After investigating the Harlem Renaissance, you must decide
    • What are the most important/interesting/informative facts about the Renaissance?
    • Who are the most interesting/important people associated with the Harlem Renaissance?
    • What are the most important/interesting issues and events of the Harlem Renaissance?
  • We must prepare a 10 minute video documentary Inside the Harlem Renaissance


  • We must
    • identify what steps are necessary to accomplish the research.
    • decide how to divide the research.
    • decide on a format for completing the research.
    • identify the components of a good video documentary. See:
  1. Memory's Voices
  2. Creating Documentary Entries [PDF] (History Day)
    • decide what roles/assignments/equipment are needed to accomplish the task of producing a video.
    • decide how to assign responsibilities.



Harlem Renaissance: An Introduction
Harlem Renaissance - A Brief Introduction

Harlem Renaissance and the Flowering of Creativity

UCLA is a wonderful resource for the text of the Marcus Garvey and UNIA papers project.
The African American Journey
Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes Poems
Goin to Chicago
Destination for the Great Migration
Alain Locke's article, The New Negro from Survey Graphic magazine, March 1925

Zora Neale Hurston

BIOGRAPHY: Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)

Countee Culleen

Jean Toomer

Claude McKay

Great day in Harlem

Other Resources

Watson, Steven, The Harlem Renaissance (New York: Pantheon Books, 1995).
Discussion of sexual orientation may make this appropriate for teachers only.


When dividing tasks amongst your group members, keep in mind individual strengths. Each of you will be responsible for academic research, but allow the gifts/talents of the group to surface and help create a powerful product. It is important to cooperate in the division of tasks and keep an open mind during group and individual discussions concerning the project.


After completing this project, what is it that you believe is the most important aspect of the Harlem Renaissance? Why?


The project will be evaluated by a rubric created by the class on the planning day. Your rubric will be based on the criteria you agree makes an outstanding video documentary of the historical/literary topic assigned and historical quality based on:
  • accuracy
  • clear thesis with supporting evidence
  • good research evidenced by a minimum of four sources in a bibliography
  • includes all elements requested by International Broadcasting

You have had ample opportunities in your lives to experience many types of programming. In a sense you are experts. You know what makes a program both entertaining and informational. Consider using a five point rubric; five being an outstanding documentary that is ready for broadcast and one being a video that is in its earliest production stages.


  • Thinking about the process the class used to complete this project:
    • What was the most meaningful aspect of the project for you?
    • Why is this/why is this not a project others should be assigned?
    • What value was there in learning about the Harlem Renaissance?
    • What helped you most to learn in this process?
    • What would you do differently/the same for the nest project?


Grade Level/Unit: Grade 11 / The Jazz Age

  • Purpose:
    • Students will research and demonstrate their understanding of a period of U.S. history that has been overlooked/neglected in the past.
    • Students will gain insight to the feelings and frustrations of Black Americans during the early part of the twentieth century by looking at the Black philosophy, culture, and history of the time.
    • Students will learn to identify research skills and video production skills and apply them to the creation of a documentary.
  • History - Social Science Standards
    • Grade 11: Standard 5: Students analyze the major political, social, economic, technological, and cultural developments of the 1920s, in terms of:
      5. the Harlem Renaissance and new trends in literature, music, and art, with special attention to the work of writers (e.g., Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes)
    6. the growth and effects of radio and movies and their role in the world wide diffusion of popular culture

Historical Research, Evidence, and Point of View

4. Students construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate, and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations.

Historical Interpretation

1. Students show the connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events and larger social, economic, and political trends and developments.

3. Students interpret past events and issues within the context in which an event unfolded rather than solely in terms of present-day norms and values.

  • Length:
    • One day planning, three days for research and collection of materials and two to three days for taping depending upon the amount of equipment available.
  • Teacher Materials:
    • Computer access to the internet.
    • Text and other articles relevant to the Renaissance.
  • Interdisciplinary Connections:
    • Obvious connections to the music, art, dance, drama and literature of the time.
  • Adaptations for special needs:
    • The use of CRLP meaning-making strategies for reading the difficult text is essential.


Michael A. Gordon
Arcadia High School
180 Campus Drive
Arcadia, CA 91007
818-446-0131 x6467


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Last revised 03/23/06